Kieran Kingston: Antrim test will stand to Cork hurlers for Galway clash

“It’s a no-win situation, really, and for us coming up here the objective was to get out of here with a win and make it into the quarter-finals of the All-Ireland."
Kieran Kingston: Antrim test will stand to Cork hurlers for Galway clash

Cork manager Kieran Kingston. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

WHILE it was far from a perfect display, the key thing for Cork manager Kieran Kingston was that his team came out Corrigan Park with a victory.

Trailing at half-time, the Rebels improved in the second half and were comfortable winners in the end. 

Such an outcome wasn’t something to be taken for granted.

“The difficulty in a game like this is that, if you win by 20 points, people say, ‘Yeah, that was expected,’ and you win by two and you’re useless,” Kingston said.

“It’s a no-win situation, really, and for us coming up here the objective was to get out of here with a win and make it into the quarter-finals of the All-Ireland.

“That was the primary objective because we knew this was going to be difficult. No other objective only get in and get out of here.  Many teams have suffered up here.”

Cork had been hot favourites to advance, but Kingston tried to ensure that the challenge of Antrim wasn’t taken lightly. 

Even so, Cork were sucked into a contest in the first half.

“Look at the game – you might say that we were complacent and didn’t take it seriously but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.

“That’s not being patronising towards Antrim as we knew coming up there the history of games between ourselves an Antrim over the years and their results here between league and championship.

“We were well aware of that and I spoke to them about that leading into that. 

I’ve good friends up here and I’ve spent time in Cushendall so I’m familiar with Antrim hurling and this location but I think maybe for the first 20 minutes the lads didn’t believe me!

“We were complacent and our decision-making was poor, our execution poor at times, we went for goals when points were on and that cost us. Now, they missed some scores as well so we were probably happy enough to be where we were at half-time.”

Conor Lehane scores a goal against Antrim from a penalty at Corrigan Park. Picture: INPHO/John McVitty
Conor Lehane scores a goal against Antrim from a penalty at Corrigan Park. Picture: INPHO/John McVitty

Cork scored two first-half goals, but they only amounted to half of all of the green flags raised in the opening period.

“We conceded two really soft goals from long balls in,” Kingston. “Balls that got through our half-back line that really shouldn’t have – we didn’t track the runners and all of a sudden the ball is in the net.

Early goals are great but sometimes they can give you a false sense of security and I felt that they did that – we got a false sense of security from the early scores and we kind of sat back on our laurels.

“That’s nothing to do with the elements. Our execution and our decision-making was a bit off – whether it was the three weeks, for the opening 20 minutes, we were off in many ways.”

And yet, that might be a good way to be going into a clash with Galway?

“It’s hard to know,” Kingston said. “Obviously, momentum is good and this game will bring us on a lot. 

"But, no doubt about it, we were off in the first half, we spoke about it at half-time and our attitude was really good in the second half.

“Our execution was better, our decision-making was better, we worked a lot harder in the second half. 

“That was important, because we lost the middle third in the first half, no question. They dominated it but we got control in the second half.

“We were always in control in the second half, it was just a matter of how much, but certainly in the first half we weren’t.”

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